Fall Ball Policy Memo Confirms More Changes Than Just Venue

Written by Gianna Walton, Managing Editor

Last week, the Student Bar Association (SBA) and the Office of Student Affairs announced several additional changes to the Fall Ball Policy Memo for this year, in addition to moving the event to an off-campus venue. As previously reported, SBA revealed last spring that Fall Ball 2016 would be held off-campus at Terminal 5, a concert venue in Hell’s Kitchen, instead of its traditional location in Vanderbilt Hall.

Though tickets for Fall Ball will still be free this year, drink tickets are now limited to two per student. Drink tickets are first-come, first-serve and will not be provided to guests. Terminal 5 will also have a full cash bar for those who wish to purchase additional beverages. Last year, attendees received a maximum of five drink tickets each.

In addition, students are now free to bring up to two guests each. In past years, Student Affairs utilized a Guest Lottery in which students wishing to bring a significant other to the event could enter to win one of 200 guest tickets available.

The event will also start several hours later than in past years, beginning at 10:00 p.m. and running until 2:00 p.m. Last year’s event was held from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

In an email statement, Neesha Chhina and Marissa Prieto, SBA Social Chairs, on behalf of the SBA, said that the decision to move Fall Ball off-campus had been contemplated for a long time and was made jointly by SBA and Student Affairs.

“For liability purposes, Student Affairs began slowly imposing additional limitations on Fall Ball, such as limiting the amount of alcohol they would purchase, instituting a guest policy, and implementing drink tickets in order to limit how much any one person could drink,” said Chhina and Prieto. “Over time, students wanted more control over the event (decorations, start and finish times, etc.), and the only way to receive that was to move the event off campus.”

Jason Belk, Dean of Students, said in an email that the change in location was also driven by space limitations of the Law School.

“In recent years, the number of people wishing to attend the Fall Ball has grown significantly, and by moving it to an offsite venue, we no longer have the capacity constraints that we faced with Greenberg Lounge,” Dean Belk said.

The budget for this year’s Fall Ball is the same as last year’s budget, according to Dean Belk.

Chhina and Prieto said that SBA’s control over the event is one of the primary benefits of having Fall Ball off-campus.

“When the event was on campus, it was run by Student Affairs alone, and there was limited [to] no input from the SBA,” they said. “That means that this year, we were able to prioritize how we thought students would best want the funds allocated when it came to food, drink, DJ, decorations, etc.”

One such example is the decision to offer specialty cocktails. Drink tickets will not cover the specialty cocktails, but the price was negotiated with Terminal 5 from $10.00 down to $7.00, according to Chhina and Prieto. Other prices, including the $4.00 coat check, are at Terminal 5’s discretion, they said.

Chhina and Prieto also emphasized that even though students may be used to receiving five drink tickets in past years, the amount of available alcohol has always been limited. Given budget constraints, they said, “it is not possible to simply pay for what we would like to consume and then distribute an unlimited amount of drink tickets. . . .”

“We cannot guarantee that every single student will get 2 tickets, but we will have a system in place to ensure that no one receives more than 2 in order to evenly distribute them as best as possible,” they said.

Also evident from the Policy Memo is that transportation from campus to the event will not be provided for students. Last year, SBA stated that it planned to try to arrange busing from campus to Terminal 5, which is located about 30 minutes away from the Law School campus by subway or car.

After looking into the costs of using NYU’s shuttles and alternatives such as ride-sharing services, however, SBA ultimately determined that providing transportation was not within its budget.

“[I]n the end, we decided that it was not possible or necessary seeing that transportation has never been provided for a Fall Ball or weekly Bar Review in the past,” Chhina and Prieto stated. “[W]e determined that it would not be prudent to spend student funds on an expense that we deemed as non-essential to the event.”

In addition to the main event being moved off-campus, students may also be unable to find places on campus to celebrate before the event due to the closing of the journal offices in the basement of D’Agostino Hall and various other common areas in D’Agostino Hall and Hayden Hall. Those areas were also closed off to students before last year’s Fall Ball.

“We will be closing journal offices and common areas in residence halls in advance of Fall Ball to avoid the extra cleaning costs The Law School has faced in the past,” Dean Belk said.

Heather Garvey, 3L, said that she appreciated the change in guest policy and thought it was nice for people who wish to bring significant others. At the same time, she said, it seemed strange that guests would not be provided drink tickets.

She also worries that the off-campus venue might make Fall Ball less relaxed and more similar to Spring Fling, which was held last March at Union Square Ballroom.

“It seems like the budget went towards having a venue as opposed to the experience,” she said.

UPDATE: According to an email sent by Dean Belk to the journal Editors-in-Chief on Tuesday afternoon, journals may in fact hold pre-Fall Ball gatherings in the journal offices in D’Agostino Hall before 10 p.m. on Thursday. The basement of D’Agostino will be closed from 10 p.m. on Thursday until 7 a.m. on Friday morning. Alcohol is not permitted in the common area of the basement of D’Agostino, but may be served in individual journal offices. The journal offices in Wilf Hall, however, will be closed beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday. 

What do you think of the new Fall Ball venue and changes to the event policies? Send us your comments at law.commentator@nyu.edu.

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The Commentator

The Commentator is the official student newspaper of New York University School of Law and a seven-time winner of the American Bar Association’s Top Law School Newspaper Award. Founded over 50 years ago in 1966 as a biweekly print publication, The Commentator was re-launched as an online newspaper in 2015.

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